Fluidized mud microbial communities provide clues into both past and future evolutionary processes.
Fluidized muds: a novel setting for the generation of biosphere diversity through geologic time*
Article first published online: 15 MAR 2010
© 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd
Volume 8, Issue 3, pages 169–178, June 2010
How to Cite
ALLER, J. Y., ALLER, R. C., KEMP, P. F., CHISTOSERDOV, A. Y. and MADRID, V. M. (2010), Fluidized muds: a novel setting for the generation of biosphere diversity through geologic time. Geobiology, 8: 169–178. doi: 10.1111/j.1472-4669.2010.00234.x
- Issue published online: 13 MAY 2010
- Article first published online: 15 MAR 2010
- Received 6 October 2009; accepted 12 February 2010
Reworked and fluidized fine-grained deposits in energetic settings are a major modern-day feature of river deltas and estuaries. Similar environments were probably settings for microbial evolution on the early Earth. These sedimentary systems act as efficient biogeochemical reactors with high bacterial phylogenetic diversity and functional redundancy. They are temporally rather than spatially structured, with repeated cycling of redox conditions and successive stages of microbial metabolic processes. Intense reworking of the fluidized bed entrains bacteria from varied habitats providing new, diverse genetic materials to contribute to horizontal gene transfer events and the creation of new bacterial ecotypes. These vast mud environments may act as exporters and promoters of biosphere diversity and novel adaptations, potentially on a globally important scale.